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Walgreens’ coronavirus vaccines are exceeding expectations and boosting sales.


Walgreens Boots Alliance was administering coronavirus vaccinations at a faster-than-expected rate, delivering 13.5 million vaccinations in the three months ended September, helping support sales, the company reported Thursday.

The company also announced it would invest an additional $5.2 billion in VillageMD, a company that aims to reach out to underserved communities, to support the rollout of at least 600 primary care practices at Walgreens in the United States.

Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance rose more than 3 percent in early trading after the announcement.

The company reported same-store sales grew 8.9 percent in the fourth fiscal quarter compared to the same period last year. Health and wellness sales were up 14 percent, boosted by home coronavirus testing and cold and flu products.

“Comparable US pharmacy and retail sales both experienced robust growth, and the recovery continued in our UK operations as Covid-19 restrictions eased in the quarter,” Rosalind Brewer, the CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, said in a statement. .

Net income increased 68 percent in the quarter to $627 million; it was $373 million a year earlier. The company also benefited from digital tools that made curbside pick-ups and drive-throughs easier, leading to 100 percent revenue growth for the fourth quarter compared to last year.

Walgreens is one of the largest of dozens of supermarket and drugstore chains that provide vaccines assigned by states and through the federal pharmacy vaccination program. The company derives revenue from vaccine administration fees paid by the government and private payers, as well as purchases from buyers who purchase vaccines.

The company requires people to create a Walgreens account to search for a vaccine appointment online, which helped increase the MyWalgreens program membership from 75 million members in the previous quarter to 85 million members.

But it also received complaints from customers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the quarter about the timing of a second dose of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Walgreens had scheduled a second dose for that injection four weeks apart, but agreed to follow guidelines from federal health officials, which recommend a three-week break.

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